Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He has written and/or edited nine books on faithful Catholic spirituality and is the Executive Director and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com.
Every year over at Catholic Spiritual Direction, I am asked about ways to better prepare for the upcoming seasons of worship. I always appreciate the opportunity to find refreshing water in our deep well of tradition. One of the many delights of converting to the Catholic faith has been learning the dance of the liturgical seasons. The beauty of the rhythmic worship of the Church is really something to behold and a joy to be a part of. Every year our family works to reach into the heart of the tradition of the Church only to find new ways that it unfolds into blessings in our home. Sometimes the answers are very simple but beautiful. For advent, this is the case this year. Here’s a simple way to draw the hearts and minds of your family into the rhythm of Advent.
My friend Lisa Hendy has written a new pocket-sized guide from Ave Maria Press, O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath which offers a very user-friendly way for families to pray and celebrate the days of the season together.
This is a slim inexpensive booklet that easily slips into a coat pocket and contains a prayer for each day of Advent, as well as a Scriptural reference, silent reflection time, and a prayer to end the daily devotional. Written to be used with families, the guide also includes suggestions for engaging younger children. These prayerful and prayer-filled 32 pages offer a perfect way to pause and bring Advent to life for a busy family.
The custom of gathering around the Advent wreath began in Europe and now is a tradition for families everywhere. A circle of evergreens symbolizes the promise of eternal life. The wreath includes four candles—three purple and one rose. The serious tone of the season is marked by the purple candles. One purple taper is lit each day of the first week of Advent, then two purple candles in the second week. The rose candle is lighted the third week, and all four are lighted the fourth week. The glow from the Advent wreath represents the Light of Christ shining in the darkness.
Simple directions included in the guide suggest the family gather around the wreath and follow the one-page readings for each day. Children enjoy the brightness of the candles, while other members of the family experience a blessed sense of peace achieved from the brief moments of prayerful reflection. This guide creates a special time for the entire family to remember the reason for the season.
If you have yet to incorporate the Advent wreath into your family tradition, this is a great way to start. If you are looking for other ideas, EWTN's Religious Catalogue provides resources that are always magisterium faithful.
What is your favorite Advent tradition?